Research Shows Tibetan Sound Meditation BENEFITS Cancer Patients’ Mental Processes, Mental Health

Research on the effect of Tibetan sound meditation on cancer patients’ cognitive function and mental health has been published in the May 9 issue of Psycho-Oncology: Journal of the Psychological, Social and Behavioral Dimensions of Cancer.

TWR-10-08-portrait-small croppedAle Crestone croppedThe collaborative research between Ligmincha Institute and the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, was led by Drs. Alejandro Chaoul-Reich and Lorenzo Cohen, with Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche as consultant. Alejandro is Director of Research for Ligmincha Institute.

Results indicate that Tibetan sound meditation may be associated with short-term improvement in cognitive function, mental health and spirituality in women with breast cancer.

The Randomized Control Trial (RCT) included 47 women with breast cancer who had completed chemotherapy between six and 60 month previously and who reported cognitive impairment. Participants were assigned randomly to either a twice-weekly session of Tibetan sound meditation or to a control group. Participants in both groups were assessed for cognitive function, intrusive thoughts, depression, sleep disturbances, fatigue and spirituality at the baseline, at the end of treatment and one month later.

Compared to the control group, the women in the Tibetan sound meditation group performed better on the verbal memory test and processing speed task (objective testing), and reported improved cognitive function, cognitive abilities, mental health and spirituality at the end of the treatment, but not one month later.

“It is a real honor to be able to work in this collaborative project between Ligmincha and MD Anderson, bringing these ancient Bon practices into contemporary medical environment, and see how these women with cancer feel the benefit, Alejandro Chaoul-Reich says. “ It brings much joy to my own practice, and I want to thank Tenzin Rinpoche for his unwavering support.”

In addition to Alejandro Chaoul-Reich, Lorenzo Cohen and Tenzin Rinpoche, authors of the Psycho-Oncology article include K. Milbury, K. Biegler, A. Spelman, C.A. Meyers, B. Arun, J.L. Palmer and J. Taylor. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first meditation study aimed at improving cognitive deficits in cancer patients.

An abstract of the article also was cited on Pub Med, a search engine for publications related to medicine.

Follow-up study is planned both at MD Anderson Cancer Center, in collaboration with Ligmincha Texas, and at Einstein Hospital in Sao Paul, Brazil, in collaboration with Ligmincha Brazil. This study also will use brain imagery testing. Results should be available within the next two years.

Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche will be sharing the practice of this study, and Alejandro Chaoul-Reich will be discussing the research, at a special upcoming conference on Buddhism and Science to be held Oct. 9–10, 2013, at Ligmincha Institute at Serenity Ridge. (This retreat will be followed by the annual Fall Retreat.) In addition, eight other recognized researchers from different institutions will present at the conference. Participants will explore the connection between science and spirituality, with a particular focus on how meditation and the practice of compassion can affect health and well-being. Everyone is welcome to attend.